Umm Muhammed Umar
A fire has swept through a congested prison near Jakarta in Indonesia, killing forty-one prisoners. Inmates at the Tangerang prison were asleep when the fire broke out.
The BBC reports that while the guards had managed to unlock some cells, they were forced to flee in the face of the blaze. Indonesia’s Minister of Law and Human Rights, Yasonna Laoly, said, “The fire spread quickly and there was no time to open some cells… When the guards found out, the fire had already spread.” The BBC reports there had only been 15 guards on duty at the time.
The prisons Block C, worst hit by the fire, was intended to accommodate 40 prisoners only. However, there were 122 inmates in the cell block. The prison itself held 2000 inmates, although it was meant to accommodate just 600. Among the dead was a South African, and a citizen of Portugal.
Block C held mostly drug related offenders. However, among the victims, one was reported to be a murder convict, while another had been convicted for terrorism.
A doctor at a nearby hospital said that some of the bodies had been burnt beyond recognition, and that DNA tests were being used to identify them. While eight prisoners have been reported to have been seriously injured, dozens suffered lesser injuries.
The fire was being investigated, but an electrical short-circuit was suspected to have been behind the blaze. The Minister said that the jails electrical system had not been updated since 1972, when it was built.